“The Crimson Claymore” is the first book in the “Claymore of Calthoria” series written by USA Today’s bestselling author Craig A. Price Jr.; known for his “Dragonia Empire” book series. The audiobook edition is quite well narrated and performed by Ian McEuen who receives rather high ratings for this other works. The story is set in a fantasy world and it centers around a man who is out for revenge. He will do almost anything to see those who hurt his family either come to justice through the hands of the law or by his own hands; or blade. In some ways the story felt more like a LitRPG than a standard fantasy tale and is not a bad thing. It is more about the progression of the character and not the experience and leveling parts. We have the classic man vs. man (revenge style) tale, but this one also takes a few surprise twists and turns along the way. There is plenty of mystery, suspense, and wit making it a well-rounded adventure. If you are one who enjoys a well-written and narrated fantasy exploration piece, I recommend you pick up this book and give it a listen.
I like that the author included a prologue chapter giving the listener some insight and background before dropping you right in t the world. What is not to like about a revenge story? As you listen to the story, you can feel that the main character oozes with hatred and the desire to seek revenge no matter the cost. There is almost a heightened level of despair throughout the story and one wonders if he will ever be satisfied. The author includes flashbacks giving the listener more details on who our main character is and why he is what he is. I like the addition of the characters having familiars. The main character had his trusty steed while another character a jaguar. The story flowed in a very vibrant and colorful way. It is as if one started with a black canvas and as the story unfolds, we begin to see the splashes of color building a scene. Not only the setting, but the characters were multidimensional, and each had a personality and skills that complemented one another; except for that annoying wizard. One is able to see that the main character needed to depend on his companions for help in achieving his goals. For me, the story felt well planned and executed from both the writing and narration. Good job.
Although the story was quite complex, at times it felt more Young Adult (YA) than I would have expected from our characters. I think some of it feels this way due to some of the character interactions and conversations. The story has a more traditional fantasy world along with the expected classes and creatures; many our party discovers along their travels. We are presented with mages, wizards, warlocks, magic, and plenty of fighting. I even liked how the author wrapped in some humor with the subtle events like the discovery of the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. There are a number of other humorous quips and pokes that pop-up and surprise you while listening. I found the game within a game an interesting component and brought me back to my childhood some. Our main character plays a strategy game, like Stratego, which they played as youths growing up. If he wins, he gets to control an army. If he loses, revenge may have to wait for another time.
The audiobook’s narration was solid and performed professionally. Each of the characters voices felt unique and distinct. There is even a point where the narrator sings, and he does a decent job here as well. Although I was not a fan of the Wizards voice, I think that was both the author’s and narrator’s intentions. He was intended to be an annoying character, and this was done well. I do not recall any issues with audio artifacts (swallows, background noise, etc.). The pace of reading and audio volumes remained consistent throughout the book.
For parents or younger readers, there is some light romance between characters and I do not recall any vulgar language being used. I feel it would be a good story for a pre-teen and up. The writing style was not overly complex and the narration clear and well-paced. However, younger readers may not fully grasp some of the sarcasm and snarky comments thrown around in this book.
In summary, the book had a fair amount of mystery and suspense while wanting to find out what happens with our main character. Revenge is a powerful motivator, but one has to be reminded that actions have consequences. Sometime, these consequences can be deadly. If you are looking for a new fantasy series to listen too, I can say that I think you will enjoy this one; apart from the wizard that is. I look forward to listening to “The Obsidian Arrow” which is the title of book two in the series when it is released.